What's Happening in Special Collections and University Archives

Introducing the “Traveling Scriptorium”

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Historical model of a medieval binding.
Historical model of a medieval binding.

What does an etched cuneiform tablet have in common with a sixteenth-century printed page? What natural materials were used to make inks and paints during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance? How is parchment made into a writing surface? How has the form of the book changed and stayed the same for almost two thousand years?

Replica of an early codex, circa 250 CE.
Replica of an early codex, circa 250 CE.

PSU faculty and students in the fields of art history, medieval history, book publishing, and graphic arts now have a new and engaging way to answer these and other inquiries about the material history of manuscripts with PSU Library Special Collections‘ “Traveling Scriptorium.”

Anne McClanan, Professor of Art History, was inspired by Yale University’s Traveling Scriptorium to create a hands-on resource at Portland State for teaching the art, culture, and science of medieval manuscripts and books. Like Yale’s project, PSU’s Traveling Scriptorium was designed to be portable for classroom use.

Art History student Normandie Holmes and PSU Library Special Collections collaborated with Professor McClanan to research and source historical book models, raw and powder pigments, oak galls and iron gall ink, parchment and vellum, and original examples of fifteenth-century manuscripts and printing for our own teaching kit. The kit is also packed with concise information on how manuscripts were produced by scribes and bookbinders, from pigments and parchment to calligraphy and gilding.

Text block sewn on split leather cords.

This teaching resource is available to Portland State faculty for three-day checkout directly from Special Collections, and is available to students by appointment. Please contact us at specialcollections@lists.pdx.edu for more information. For more on manuscripts in PSU Library Special Collections, please visit our Rare Books and Manuscripts page.

Pigments, azurite, lazurite, and small manuscript leaf.Madder Lake dye and madder roots.Oak gall nuts used for making iron gall ink.Scribe Jean Mielot, Brussels, circa 1450.

Meet Don Carlo, Vet and Editor of Original Vanport Student Newspaper

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Before Portland State was a university or college, it was the Vanport Extension Center (VEC), founded in 1946 to serve veterans returning from World War II and wanting to take advantage of the G.I. Bill. The first classes were offered in the city of Vanport, Oregon (now the site of Delta Park and the Portland International Speedway) in summer of 1946.

photo of Don Carlo in 1947The first edition of the student newspaper, the Vet’s Extended, was published just a few months later, on November 15, 1946. Headlines in Volume I, Issue 1 included “Dr. Epler Greets Students” and “Student Government Inaugurated Friday.”

The first editor of the student newspaper, Don Carlo (at right), was a remarkable man. Carlo started writing news stories as a child and worked on the student newspaper at Washington High School in Southeast Portland. In 1940, following high school graduation, he enrolled in the journalism program at the University of Oregon, but left after a year to work for the San Francisco Chronicle.

He was then called up to serve in the army, where he established and edited post newspapers. Carlo lost his vision in an accident in the army in about early 1945. He then attended the army school for the blind, based at a hospital in Connecticut, where he learned Braille in just a few months and started a newspaper for the hospital with an accompanying Braille edition.

By summer of 1946, Don Carlo was 24 and enrolled at the Vanport Extension Center back home in Oregon. An article in the Sunday Journal Pacific Parade Magazine says Carlo was able to live and study independently in Vanport: “Bed-making, cooking when he is inclined to eat at home, dusting, sweeping up, none of the household chores of a bachelor bother Carlo.” He carried a Braille typewriter to classes and listened to news and novels on record.

front page of Vet's ExtendedHe also founded and ran the student newspaper. According to the Pacific Parade,

“Editorial work of Veterans Extended, the Vanport student body paper, is done at Carlo’s apartment where the staff congregates several evenings a week. Carlo writes many of the stories and editorials, offers suggestions as others of the newspaper staff read stories to him for editing, and in general directs the paper’s editorial policies.”

And during his free time? He golfed! “On the putting green he has a golfing companion stand over the cup and talk to him so that he putts toward a voice. He shoots nine holes in 55,” wrote the Pacific Parade.

Just a few months after the first issue of the Vet’s Extended, the newspaper’s name was changed to The Vanguard, which remains the flagship student paper at Portland State today.

Don Carlo was remarkable in 1946 and remains so today. Thanks to Don Carlo and the many veterans throughout the years at Vanport Extension Center, Portland State College, and Portland State University.

Learn more about the early days of Portland State University at the Vanport Extension Center in a digital exhibit, The Vanport Extension Center, 1946-48, from PSU Library University Archives.
1946 article about Don Carlo


Dodds, Gordon B. The College That Would Not Die: The First Fifty Years of Portland State University, 1946-1996. Portland, OR: Oregon Historical Society Press, 2000.

From the University Archives: the Vanport Extension Center, 1946-48

Hammit, Don R. “Blind Veteran Doing O.K. at Vanport College,” Sunday Journal Pacific Parade Magazine, December 29, 1946.

Historical Note, Vanport Extension Center (1946-1955)

Black United Front Oral History & Digital Exhibit

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Portland State University Library Special Collections & University Archives announces a new oral history project focusing on the Portland Black United Front.

Avel_Gordly_Poster_Black_United_Front_Convention -- Instagram 04-24-2015
A poster for the Portland Black United Front convention in 1981, from the Avel L. Gordly Papers.

Portland State University public history students conducted the interviews in this oral history project in 2010. In winter 2015, with Professor Patricia Schechter, a second cohort of students reviewed the recordings and transcripts of the oral histories and created a digital exhibit containing audio and written excerpts from the interviews, photographs, and historical and biographical information.

The interviews focus on African American activists in Portland who led or supported the work of the Black United Front. The Portland BUF chapter was a branch organization of a national group founded and based in Chicago, which pressed forward a civil rights agenda during the 1980s. The BUF took on local issues from the earlier mid-century movement such as school desegregation and police brutality, as well as global ones like the fight against apartheid in South Africa.

Notable accomplishments of the Portland BUF involved education, and many of the narrators interviewed for this project highlight the transformational power of education in their lives as students, teachers, and advocates.

The online collection contains full transcripts of the interviews given in 2010.

Portland Black United Front Oral History Project Digital Exhibit

Portland Black United Front Oral History Project Interview Transcripts
images from black united front collection

University Archives Presents: The Portland State Library in 1963

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Returning overdue books to the library is certainly an act of good conscience, but it’s not usually newsworthy–unless the books were checked out over fifty years ago!

A PSU Library patron recently made news by kindly returning two books that had been checked out in 1963. The campus history experts here at Portland State University Archives got to thinking about what using the Portland State library was like in 1963, and how much the library’s building, catalog, contents, and services have changed–and stayed consistent–over the past fifty-two years.

In 1963, the core of the Portland State College campus around the Park Blocks was in the early stages of growth. From 1952 until 1957, the college’s first and oldest downtown building, Old Main (now Lincoln Hall) was the PSC campus, and contained the library, the cafeteria, the gymnasium, the science laboratories, the performance and lecture halls, and the classrooms. The Library in Old Main had a capacity of less than 50,000 books and could seat about 175 students! In 1960, PSC opened its new Library on the corner of SW Broadway and Montgomery streets (the northeast corner of today’s Smith Memorial Student Union). A brochure advertising its opening in October 1960 celebrated the new library’s size (130,000-volume capacity), modern design, technology (microfiche, reel-to-reel film and audiotape), and open-stacks design arranged by subject.

1960 Library Brochure back

The Library lobby and checkout area opened onto Broadway, and a large study hall also filled the first floor. It was a popular place to study and the collection was heavily used; the 1,000,000th patron, student Phil Rothrock, was celebrated in 1962.

Library study hall circa 1963
Library study hall circa 1963
Library lobby in 1960
Library lobby in 1960

The entire library catalog of books, periodicals, films, records, tapes, and fiche, was meticulously created and maintained on hand-typed, hand-processed catalog cards. Checkout records were also kept and revised manually on cards stamped with due dates.

One millionth library patron in 1962
The library’s 1,000,000th patron
Library staff and card catalog
Library staff member Helen Abbott assisting students with the card catalog in 1964

Reference and service desks were located on each of the Library’s floors. The basement (currently the home of the OIT Help Desk) housed A/V Services and part of the library’s technical processing staff; the second, third, and fourth floors (now the mezzanine levels of SMSU) held the circulating book collections, periodicals, and readers’ guides. Subject librarians, like Science Librarian Jolene Kuhns (pictured), staffed reference desks on each floor.

Catalogers in the 1960s
Part of the Cataloging department at work in the mid-sixties
Science Librarian Jolene Kuhns at the third-floor reference desk
Science Librarian Jolene Kuhns at the third-floor reference desk

Throughout the early and mid-1960s, Portland State College continued to expand. The Smith Memorial Student Union (then known as the College Center, which occupied the Park Avenue side of the building shared with the Library) received a half-block addition. Science I and the Peter Stott Center were built to meet desperate needs for laboratory and gymnasium facilities long outgrown in Old Main. A new freeway, the I-405, was constructed, bringing more students to Portland State College’s commuter campus. And the Library soon outgrew its early sixties location on Broadway. In 1967, ground was broken at the Library’s current location on Park Avenue, which in 1965 was still a partially residential street.

SW Park and Hall Streets in 1965
The tree in the upper right corner is the copper beech which stands in front of the library today.

All of this is just a brief snapshot of how the Library building, collections, services, and technology have changed since those recently-returned books were checked out in 1963. For more historic images of the Portland State campus, faculty, activities, and athletics, please visit Portland State University Archives’ Digital Gallery–and thank you for always returning the materials you borrow!

Fall Term Exhibits: The PSU Strike of 1970 from both sides of the barricades

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The Fall term is underway! Have you had a chance to visit the PSU and City of Portland Archives’ exhibits for a closer look at an important moment in the history of the city and the university?

“The Portland State Strike of 1970” exhibits tell the history of Vietnam War protests that took place in the PSU Park Blocks from the perspectives of student activists, Portland citizens, university faculty, city officials, and the police, using original photos, letters, newspapers, police reports, and other documents from the Portland State University Archives and the City of Portland Archives.

Two unique displays are open on the PSU campus in two locations: the fifth floor of the Campus Rec building at the Portland Archives and Records Center (PARC), and on the first floor of the Library in the elevator lobby.

Walking Tour Map

The scene of the strike, the PSU Park Blocks, lies between the two exhibit locations. As you travel between the two, take a self-guided walking tour to the sites where the action happened on campus in May 1970. Click the map to download a PDF of the tour.Viking

Day to Mourn


On May 6, 1970, Portland State students, with the support of many faculty members, walked out of classes in solidarity with demonstrators nationwide after the killings at Kent State University on May 4. The anti-war movement, protests against military recruiting on campus, actions against the transport and storage of nerve gas in Oregon, and the Free Speech Movement all added momentum to the strike, which lasted several days.
PSU President Gregory Wolfe authorized the closure of campus against the urging of counter-protesters who organized to keep classes open, stating, “Business as usual is no longer tenable.” Protesters barricaded the campus Park Blocks, which were then open to vehicle traffic, to hold speeches and demonstrations.
The strike ended violently on May 11 when a Portland Police riot control squad pushed through lines of seated protesters, beating them with batons. The following day, thousands of Portlanders reacted against the use of force by marching from PSU to City Hall, a presence that belied the degree of community support for the city’s action to clear the barricades.
These events are remembered by many in Portland and at PSU as powerful moments in the history of the university and the city.

The exhibits were researched and conceived by PSU Honors College students in a Spring 2015 junior seminar, “Activism in the Archives,” led by PSU faculty and PARC artist-in-residence Kaia Sand. The seminar students investigated original archival sources with the goal of telling the story of the Portland State strike from multiple perspectives, inspired by their own scholarly and creative interests. Their research examined the context and significance of political and local issues in 1970 and the various organizations and institutions involved in the strike. In addition to having access to original documents from the 1970s, the seminar students also had opportunities to hear from former Portland State students who had participated in the demonstrations.

Kuba Grzeda and Omeka PresentationCorinne Rupp Taya Welter Cody Layton Tour PamphletWebsiteAnna Murphy Kaylee Brink TimelineTheir projects opened up the archives and proposed new views on historic events through physical exhibits, video and visual art presentations, a digital exhibit and an interpretive website, public events, and the walking tour through the Park Blocks. Images from the class presentations include: Kuba Grzeda demonstrating a digital exhibit using the Library’s Omeka platform; a prototype tour brochure designed by Cody Layton, Corinne Rupp, and Taya Welter; a website created by Christopher Anderson; and a timeline of national and international events leading up to the Vietnam War and anti-war protest actions on college campuses in 1970, compiled by Kaylee Brink and Anna Murphy.

Viking Photos and McCall TelegramYou Are Not GoingHonors student intern Corinne Rupp worked with the PARC and PSU Archives’ collections this summer to continue her colleagues’ research and curate the current documentary exhibits, which describe the buildup to and aftermath of the heated and finally violent conflict between protesters and police in the Park Blocks from both sides of the barricades.

“The PSU Strike of 1970” exhibit will be on view at PARC (fifth floor, ASRC) and in the PSU Library first floor elevator lobby through December 2015.

Between the Park Blocks and City Hall: The Portland State Strike of 1970

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The Library’s fall term exhibit is part of two unique exhibits on display at Portland State University Library and the City of Portland Archives and Records Center. The exhibits are a collaboration between PSU Library University Archives and Special Collections, the City of Portland Archives, and students in the Spring 2015 Honors College seminar, “Activism in the Archives.”poster about exhibit

Honors students researched the collections in the City of Portland Archives and PSU Archives to interpret the events of the student strike of May 1970, which began in response to the killings at Kent State University on May 4, and ended in violence as Portland police attempted to remove demonstrators from the Park Blocks. Corinne Rupp, an Honors College student intern, used the seminar’s findings and her own original research in the city and university archives this summer to create the two exhibits on display this Fall term.

The City’s exhibit opens Saturday, October 3. On Saturday, October 3rd, get a guided tour of that exhibit with one of the students. The tours are being offered as part of the Oregon Archives Month Celebration and will start at at 12:30, 1:30 and 2:30. Meet your guide at the display on the fifth floor of ASRC.

You can see the exhibits at these two locations:

The City of Portland Archives & Records Center
1800 SW 6th Ave, Suite 550 (on the PSU campus in the Academic and Student Recreation Center Building)

The Portland State University Archives
Library, First Floor Elevator Lobby

Oregon Archives Month Celebration on Oct. 3

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Join Portland State University Library Special Collections and University Archives and ten other local archives at the City of Portland Archives and Records Center for an Oregon Archives Month Celebration.
History: Feed Your Head
Saturday, October 3, 2015
11:00 am – 3:00 pm
City of Portland Archives & Records Center
PSU Academic & Student Recreation Center (ASRC) 1800 SW 6th Ave, Suite 550
Free and open to the public!

Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the City’s archives and chat with local archivists representing 11 different archives:

  • City of Portland
  • Lewis & Clark College
  • Mazamas
  • Metro
  • Multnomah County
  • Oregon Health & Science University
  • Oregon Historical Society
  • Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education
  • Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center
  • Portland State University
  • PSU’s Architecture, Engineering and Construction

Learn more about the Oregon Archives Month Celebration.

RSVP via Facebook.

Rutherford Family Home Listed in National Register

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Rutherford Family Home circa 1922
The Rutherford Family Home, circa 1922. Photo from the Rutherford Collection at PSU Library.

The Northeast Portland family home of Otto and Verdell Burdine Rutherford was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places. According to Oregon Heritage, “the house is believed to be the first historic property in Oregon listed in the National Register primarily for its association with the Civil Rights era.”

Portland State University Library Special Collections holds the Verdell A. Burdine and Otto G. Rutherford Family Collection, donated by their daughter Charlotte Rutherford to PSU in 2012.

Oregon Heritage describes the house on the corner of NE Shaver and 9th in historic Albina as “a modest bungalow that served as a family home and support center for civil rights causes for more than half a century.” They continue:

“It was home to three generations of the Rutherford family, each of which was active in civil rights in Portland. William Rutherford and his brother Henry moved to Portland from Columbia, South Carolina in 1897 to work as barbers in the prestigious Portland Hotel. In 1923 William moved into the 1905 house on Shaver Street in the King neighborhood of Albina. Here William and his wife Lottie raised their four children, including their third son Otto, instilling in them a love of community and respect for education and hard work.

Otto and Verdell moved back into the family home upon their marriage in 1936 and began their life of activism. A high point in their careers occurred in 1953, when Oregon’s Public Accommodations Act, under the sponsorship of then Representative Mark O. Hatfield, was passed. This landmark legislation occurred when Otto Rutherford was president of the Portland Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Verdell was secretary, positions they held for several years.

Otto & Verdell Rutherford in 1982. Photo by Richard Brown.
Otto & Verdell Rutherford at their home in 1982. Photo by Richard Brown from the Rutherford Collection at PSU Library.

The Rutherford house, where Otto and Verdell raised their three children, was the location of much organizing for civil rights in the 1940s and 1950s, as well as being the first home of the NAACP Credit Union.

In later years, the Rutherfords worked arduously to document the history of the African American community in Portland. … Otto died in 2000 and Verdell followed shortly thereafter, in 2001. The house is still held by the family.”

Learn more about the National Register and recent Oregon place listings.

View the online exhibit Say We Are Here: Selections from the Verdell A. Burdine and Otto G. Rutherford Family Collection

Learn more about the Rutherfords and see a larger selection of their family photos, scrapbooks, newspapers clippings, records, and more.

See the finding aid for the Verdell Burdine and Otto G. Rutherford Family Collection, 1900s-1980s.

Read the Oregonian story “Modest Northeast Portland home wins historic designation for civil rights role.”

Special Collections Mini-Exhibit: Wear your politics!

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Colorful, humorous, emphatic, sassy, serious, right to the point: a slogan on a pin sometimes sums it up perfectly. Oregon politician Gretchen Kafoury saved thousands of political and campaign buttons during her two decades in public office, her work with the National Organization for Women and the Oregon Women’s Political Caucus, her career as an educator, and a lifetime of volunteer activism.Pins

PSU Library’s Special Collections has gathered part of Kafoury’s pin collection in a display which shows some of the causes and events with which she was engaged. We also feel that many of these pins’ up-front statements reveal the unflagging energy, enthusiasm, values, and leadership for which Kafoury herself is remembered.

See the collection this summer in the display cases nearest to Special Collections in the first floor elevator lobby (south end), starting August 26, 2015.

Gretchen Kafoury (1942-2015) was a politician, activist, and educator. She served in the Oregon state legislature from 1977 until 1982, on the Multnomah County Commission from 1985-1991, and as Portland City Commissioner from 1991-1998. Her political record and her life before and after public office show her dedication to economic and social justice, community development, women’s rights, health care, and education. She co-founded the state chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the Oregon Women’s Political Caucus (OWPC) in the early 1970s. Key issues for her as a legislator and commissioner included hospital care, aid for victims of domestic violence, job and credit assistance for low-income women, and affordable housing.Gretchen Kafoury 200px

After her retirement in 2008, Kafoury donated a collection of documents from her time with NOW and the OWPC to Portland State University Library Special Collections. In 2015, her daughter Katharine made a second gift to Special Collections of documents and ephemera from Gretchen Kafoury’s political career.

To access the Gretchen Kafoury Papers and other Special Collections materials, please contact specialcollections@lists.pdx.edu to make an appointment.

Listen to Julian Bond at Portland State in 1970

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Julian Bond, a writer, professor, politician, social activist, and leader in the American Civil Rights Movement, died on August 15, at age 75.

In 1970, while serving as an elected member of the Georgia House of Representatives, Bond traveled to Portland and spoke at Portland State on the topic of “Racial Equality in the United States.” His talk included the following quote:

julian bond
Julian Bond in 2012. Photo by Eduardo Montes-Bradley [CC BY-SA 4.0].

“The processes which elevated the European — hard work, self-help, ethnic identification, political activism, economic separatism, intellectual striving — these can, at best, only minimally improve the condition of the mass of Black people in this country. While American society has always presented the opportunity for some Black people to rise to positions of influence and affluence, and while society presently presents the opportunity for general, if only minimal, improvements to be won through the regular channels, it has not yet shown any indication or willingness to change its three-hundred-year-old history of exploitation and suppression based on race, and an economic system which has always believed that property is more important than people.”

Originally recorded on a reel-to-reel audio tape, PSU Library Special Collections and University Archives staff recently transferred the audio to digital format.

Listen to Julian Bond speak at Portland State on May 22, 1970:

Professor Bond’s lecture at PSU is one of many in the Portland State University Library Oregon Public Speakers Collection. Between 1958 and 1979, Portland State University hosted over two hundred speeches, interviews, panel discussions, and readings by scholars, activists, politicians, authors, artists, and community members. The recordings in this collection reveal an era of vital dialogue and debate supported by the university and its community.

The original recordings of these events were captured on reel-to-reel tapes by Portland State audio-visual technicians. For a time, the tapes were available as a library resource, but after reel-to-reel technology was superseded the collection fell out of use and was not included when the library catalog went online. The tapes spent years in storage until their rediscovery by PSU’s University Archivist. With the generous support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, new digital transfers of the original reel-to-reel audio recordings are now available to the public in the Oregon Public Speakers Collection.